This article was written by Elaine Creighton-Fox
In our Blackfoot ways, one of our core values is compassion (Kimmapiiypitsin). And not just to other humans but to any being that has Spirit, meaning our animal brothers and sisters. And our mother earth or in Blackfoot, Ksa’ahkowa is the ground we touch with our feet and is vibrant with energies and Spirit and warrants our compassion. My Elder, Bruce Wolf Child taught me that ‘our only purpose on earth is to help others. I never forgot his words and I stopped to think, you know ever since I can remember, I have always been quick to help others and it has always brought me a joy in my being. My other Elder, Joe Spotted Bull told me ‘You are a happy, helping Spirit, quick to help others and that is valued’. My English name is Elaine and it means ‘Hope’ in the English language. My Blackfoot name is Yellow Bird Woman, and as my Aunt says,’ You are a canary, you bring light and smiles to others’. The reason I have introduced myself this way is that my Uncle who was also a judge and one of our esteemed Elders, taught me that just because a person turns 65 years old, does not immediately put them in the arena of ‘traditional knowledge keepers’. One has to be qualified to enter that arena, usually lifelong helpers of our people and usually Holy Society members and who are now grandfathers and grandmothers to the whole tribe. So, I introduced myself as such as I have lived giving kindness and compassion wherever I can and this qualifies me to talk on the subject of ‘compassion’.
In today’s trying times and the quest for ever-evolving technology and the materialistic pursuit of life and the slow but sure death, we as humans have been imposing on mother earth and each other with the robotic ways of life, it was time to slow down. To take stock of what was happening and to acknowledge each other again. The seemingly, glaring evil of today is ‘ego’. And this now brings us back to the subject of the villain that has been trying humanity this past year, the big C! Covid and its attack on not only the human body but on ego too. Yes, this virus has made us look at others and bring back some compassion. It has isolated us, frustrated us, hurt us, killed so many people worldwide and is a reality that will not go away soon. It has made us human again.
And in that sense, I am brought back to another cultural teaching, this one from the late Adam Delaney, whose son Adam Jr. Recently passed away from covid. Condolences to his family. His son’s passing made me think of him, one of my respected elders and my mentor. His words were ‘life is like a million branch leaves hitting you in the face when you least expect it (our people are very descriptive) and Creator teaches us a lot of lessons. You just have to keep going and remember no matter how old or smart you are, there is learning until you go back to Spirit world’.
He went on to relay a story of his ‘silliness’ and his learning to me. He was about in his late 70’s and by then he had completed his role as Leader of our Men’s Holy Society, the Horn Society and was now a grandfather for all, he could still perform ceremony, paint faces and guide the new horn members. It was a hot summer day and he had just finished mowing his lawn, his wife had gone into town to get groceries. He was at home alone. He sat down under a tree and he noticed a case of beer hidden under the bushes. It was probably his son’s Adam, he mused. So, he thought ‘well it’s a hot day, one cool one won’t hurt’. Fast forward, he got drunk and his wife
hit the roof. He smiled and told me ‘you see my girl, we never stop learning, and we never stop being human so don’t ever be so hard on yourself or on others’.
Humanity now has to admit there has been good fruition of covid. A lot of kindness and compassion has been witnessed, people helping people. People caring about others versus ‘me’ and this in a way brings my people back to one of their core values mentioned at the beginning of this article, compassion and helping others. From every bad thing that happens, some good comes out of it. People making calls and connecting with each other to ensure their safety and complying with the restrictions, or bringing groceries to the elderly just to keep them safe in their homes, the extra help with food for the tribal members from our leadership, the taking the time to stop and think of someone else. And the isolation has made some of us engage in more self-care, yoga, in-home exercising and a lot of praying. It has made us look within and take stock of where we have been and what we needed to do moving forward, in terms of self-care. I for one, without all the distractions of the outside world pre-covid, have been smudging and praying a lot, getting connected again with my higher power. I have been minding my diet and eating more brain food to help with all this online reading.
In conclusion, part of my self-care and awareness is more compassion for the animal world. My roommate works part-time and in her absence, I have been taking care of her cat Simon when needed. I have never really connected to cats, being a dog person and having grown up with the family dogs in our home on the prairies. I have heard cats are finicky, and my roommate did tell me that her cat only drinks water from a sink faucet or the shower. I finally witnessed this as the cat meowed at me to follow him to the bathroom, jumped up onto the sink and I turned the tap on. The cat drinks water from the faucet, thus my accompanying picture for this month’s article. Yes, I learned something new and I showed compassion to a cat. This is growth for me as I usually avoided these feline creatures. I did this for my roommate and ended up being kind and making a connection to her cat. And I realize my articles have been on covid because that is what we are currently living through and I am trying to help us understand its consequences, good and bad. Life is a mystery and lifelong learning and until next time…Grandma Lane